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University of California Berkeley 

University of California Bancroft Library /Berkeley 
Regional Oral History Office 

Earl S. Peirce 


Edited by 
Amelia R, Fry 


Produced under the auspices of 
Resources for the Future 

All uses of this manuscript are 
covered by an agreement between 
the Regents of the University of 
California and Earl S. Peirce, 
dated October 15, 1967. The 
manuscript is thereby made avail 
able for research purposes. All 
literary rights in the manuscript, 
including the right to publish, 
are reserved to the Bancroft 
Library of the University of 
California at Berkeley. No part 
of the manuscript may be quoted 
for publication without the written 
permission of the Director of 
Bancroft Library of the University 
of California at Berkeley, 

Earl S. Peirce 

September 26. 1886 



July 1. 1910 




From 1933 to 1951 

Prom 1936 to my 
retirement in 1951 

Born at Frankfort, Maine 

Attended Peekskill Military 
Academy, Peekskill, New York 

Attended Phillip Academy, 
Andover, Massachusetts. 
Graduated 1906 

Yale University, New Haven, 
Connecticut. Graduated 1909, 
"3.S." degree 

Attended Yale Forest School, 
New Haven, Connecticut 

Entered U.S. Forest Service 
as Forest Assistant, Bighorn 
National Forest, Sheridan, 

Forest Examiner in Black Hills 
National Forest, Deadwood, 
South Dakota 

Forest Supervisor, Medicine 
Bow National Forest, Laramie, 

Director of Extension, New 
York State College of Forestry, 
Syracuse, New York 

Held various positions with 
U.S. Forest Service at Regional 
Office at Milwaukee, Wisconsin, 
and at head office in Washington, 

Was Chief of the Division of 
Co-operative Forest Protection, 
having to do mainly with co 
operation with state forestry 
departments and private timber 
land owners in protecting forests 
from fire damage. 

Was assigned to the timber 
salvage project in New England 
(administered by the U.S. Forest 
Service) following the hurricane 
of 1938. 


This interview was made possible by a grant from Resources 
for the Future, Inc., under which the Regional Oral History 
Office of the Bancroft Library at the University of California at 
Berkeley embarked on a series of interviews to trace the history 
of policy in the U. S. Forest Service. Dr. Henry Vaux, Professor 
of Forestry, University of California, Berkeley, is the Principal 
Investigator of this project. Copies of the manuscripts are on 
deposit in the Bancroft Library of the University of California at 
Berkeley; also in the Department of Special Collections, UCLA 
Library; in the Forest History Society, Yale University; and in 
the library of Resources for the Future, Washington, D. C. 

The Regional Oral History Office was established to tape 
record autobiographical interviews with persons prominent in the 
recent history of the West. The Office is under the administrative 
supervision of the Director of the Bancroft Library. 

Willa Klug Baum, Head 
Regional Oral History Office 

Regional Oral History Office 
Room 486 The Bancroft Library 
University of California 
Berkeley, California 



tape recorded interviews on 

1. Clepper, Henry, Executive Secretary, Society of American 


2. Dana, Samuel T. , Dean, School of Natural Resources, University 

of Michigan 

3. Gill, Tom, Forester, author, head of Pack foundation. 

4. Granger, Christopher, Assistant Chief of the Forest Service, 

national forest administration. 

5. Hall, R. Clifford, Director, Forest Taxation Inquiry. 

6. Hartzog, George B. , Director, National Park Service. 

7. Hornaday, Fred, Executive Secretary of American Forestry 

Association; and Pomeroy, Kenneth, Editor for A. F. A. 

8. Kotok, I. E., Assistant Chief of the Forest Service, state 

and private forestry; research. 

9. Kniepp, Leon F., Assistant Chief of the Forest Service, land 

and acquisition. 

10. Marsh, Raymond, Assistant Chief of the U. S. Forest Service 

under Earle Clapp. 

11. Peirce, Earl, Chief, Division of State Cooperation, USFS . 

12. Ring land , Arthur, Regional Forester, Region 3; Executive 

Secretary of National Conference on Outdoor 

13. Roberts, Paul, Director, Prairie States Forestry Projects; 

14. Shepard , Harold B., in charge of Insurance Study, conducted 

by the Northeastern Experiment Station with Yale 

15. Sieker, John H. , Chief of Division of Recreation and Lands. 

16. Swift, Lloyd, Chief of Division of Wildlife Management. 




measure of foreJt fire hazard, by town 

Over /0,000,0O0 i>d. ft. down 
(Extreme fire hazard) 

/,000.00O to /0,O 0O.OOO id. ft 
(Moderate fire hazard) 

Xes; ihan /.000.000 td.ft 
(Jliyht fire hazard) 

I //of affected or no report 






MAINE _4 ._40-_ _. 50.000. _ 45,000 

NEW HAMPSHIRE- _IO_. - 259 _ _ 1,005,000 620,000 

VERMONT _I4 248 360,000 190.000 

MASSACHUSETTS-. __IO_ - 1 50 _. I,OOO.OOO_. 600.00 

RHODE ISLAND- _5__ 39 _. 85,000 60,000 

CONNECTICUT- _ 8_. 168- 1 50.000 ... 85.000 

TOTAL NEW ENGLAND _ _5I_ 904_ 2.650,000 1,600,000 



This historical report was prepared in March, 
1965, twenty-seven years after the big hurricane 
in 1938. It is based in part on memory, but mostly 
on reports and records made during or soon after the 
completion of the program. 

The Federal activities in New England following 
the hurricane were undertaken in response to urgent 
requests from responsible individuals, groups, and 
high officials of all the states involved. The dou 
ble barrelled program, (1) reducing the forest fire 
hazard and (2) salvaging the damaged timber, was made 
possible through the cooperation of at least six 
separate Government agencies. The work involved was 
most closely related to the Department of Agriculture, 
so the responsibility for participation by the govern 
ment was assumed by the Secretary of Agriculture. It 
was delegated by him to the Chief of the United States 
Forest Service, and within the latter organization 
the overall directing job was centered in the "Division 
of State Cooperation". The writer at the time was 
in charge of that division. 


While the hazard reduction-fire protection pro 
gram had ample precedent in the annals of Forest Ser 
vice history, it did provide a test of Forest Service 
leadership and ability to carry on a big job, demanding 
a high degree of cooperation with many local, state 
and Federal agencies. On the other hand, the timber 
salvage program was something entirely new to the 
Forest Service, a project without a modern prototype, 
one so large and hazardous that no individual, corpor 
ation, or state could undertake it, and one that de 
manded the stabilizing influence of a competent and 
experienced Federal agency. The Forest Service ad 
mit* some mistakes but offers no apologies for the 
conduct of the program. Most of the policies which 
guided the various activities were fundamentally 
sound and in the best public interest. Purposely 
no names have been mentioned. To do so would make 
it difficult to know where to stop. Many persons, 
mostly regular Forest Service officials, played 
important roles in the program at one time or another 
and in various capacities. However, the Project 
Director located at Boston had by far the most diffi 
cult task. It required supervisory ability, sound 

judgement and sincere will to cooperate. The 
success of the entire program was in the hands 
of the Project Director. Two men shared that 
responsibility - Leslie S. Bean during the initial 
fifteen months, and John F. Campbell from there 
to the close of the Boston office on January 30, 


The hurricane caused a great loss of human 
lives and tremendous damage to properties of all 
kinds but the dark clouds had a tinge of silver 
lining. It provided a huge volume of lumber and 
other wood products when and where it was urgently 
needed in the war effort. In that respect, it 
added some counterweight to the old English proverb, 
"It s an ill wind that blows nobody good." 

Earl S. Peirce 

March 29, 1965 - 
Washington, D. C. 



It was retired Assistant Chief of the U.S. Forest 
Service Ed I. Kotok who in 1963 first mentioned to me 
that the federal emergency salvage of the New England 
hurricane of 1938 was a milestone in federal forestry 
in the enormity of the effort and in the complex co 
operation between federal, state, county, and private 
timberland representatives. 

Sometime later, during an exchange of letters 
with another retired assistant chief, Chris Granger, 
the subject of the 1938 blow-down was again approached, 
this time as a suggested topic to include in a memoir 
that he was planning for the Resources for the Future 
series on the history of policy in the U.S. Forest 
Service. Granger suggested that Earl Peirce was the 
man to write about the colossal cleanup job, since at 
the time of the hurricane Granger had been in charge of 
timber management of the national forests and Earl 
Peirce was heading Co-operative Forest Protection, a 
Division that dealt with state and private timber 
owners. It was he, then, who had been assigned to 
direct and co-ordinate the emergency protection and 


salvage operations. 

Mr. Peirce readily agreed to write his account 
for the Regional Oral History Office at Berkeley, 
using his records and those available in the U.S. 
Forest Service office. He received no outlines from 
me, as such; only suggestions that he try to supple 
ment the information available in the records and 
emphasize the why and the how of the operation." 
Edee Mezirow, Regional Oral History Office repre 
sentative in Washington, D.C., where Mr. Peirce lives, 
was alerted to help him if he needed assistance in 
checking records and digging out documents. Prom the 
Forest Service files and elsewhere, Peirce also 
collected several photographs and a map of the hurricane 
area for inclusion in his manuscript. 

Working without a typewriter "or the ability to 
operate one," he wrote out what, in his opinion, were 
the major activities of the entire fire protection and 
salvaging effort. Some of "the facets and ramifications," 
he says, have not been touched, but, fearing that too 
much detail would make for deadly reading, he avoided 

Letter in appendix, Fry to Peirce, January 27, 1965 


anything that might seem trivial and stuck to the 
"broad outlines. "Even so, it is difficult to tell 


the story without considerable detail," he writes. 

The manuscript was returned to the Regional Oral 
History Office in Berkeley for typing, inserting the 
necessary pictures, indexing, and binding. No editing 
was done other than checking for errors in spelling 
and typing. 

Amelia R. Pry 
Project Director 

"see Appendix, March 29, 1965, letter from Peirce to Fry. 





The Storm and Its Aftermath 1 


Organization 8 

Accomplishments 14 

Benefits 15 


Policy Development Within the Program 21 

Operations 26 

purchasing logs 27 

sawing the logs into lumber 34 

selling the lumber 37 






One of the moat destructive hurricanes of all 
times swept through the New England States on Septem 
ber 21, 1938. It left in its wake tremendous damage 
in loss of human lives and property values. It cov 
ered an area of 160,000 square miles, causing varying 
damage in all six New England states and small por 
tions of Long Island. The hardest hit areas centered 
along the north shore of Long Island Sound and ex 
tensive interior portions of New Hampshire and Massa 

Other great storms had killed more persons, but 
in terms of property losses this one topped them all. 
A few statistics will give an idea of the severity of 
the storm and its destruction: 682 persons lost their 
lives and an additional 1754 were more or less injured, 
Destroyed were 8924 dwellings, three-quarters of them 
summer homes, 9807 other buildings, and 2605 boats. 
Public utilities were severely damaged with 20,000 
miles of electric power and telephone lines put 
out of service and order. The Bell System then 

reported 600,000 telephones out of commission 
and estimated its damages at ten million dollars. 

Loss of life and damage, especially in the 
coastal areas, would have been far greater had it 
not been for advance warnings by the U.S. Weather 
Bureau and the U.S. Coast Guard, which enabled 
some emergency preparations to meet the shock. 

An unusual feature of this hurricane was its 
great damage to shade trees and forests. Literally 
millions of large trees were toppled over like ten 
pins. The capricious storm, contacting the earth 
lightly in some places, viciously in others, left 
a tangled mass of debris over extensive areas. Con 
tributing to the heavy tree damage was an abnormally 
high rainfall during the preceding week which softened 
the ground and made the trees vulnerable to wind throw. 
This applied especially to the relatively shallow 
rooted white pines, which comprised the major tree 

Throughout the hurricane area there was great 
damage to valuable shade trees - in city or town parks, 
bordering streets or surrounding homes and residences. 
Mostly, they were large and beautiful trees, highly 
valued by their owners and local residents. 

Timber Management, Injured Trees, New Hampshire 
No. 3 of a series of panorama photos showing the 
storm damage at Wheelock Park at Keene, New 
Hampshire. This damage was caused by the hurricane 
of September 21. 
Taken by B. W. Muir--0ctober 1938 

they could not be replaced within 50 years or more, 
their loss was deeply felt. 

Damage to forests involved both extensive tracts 
of timber and many small woodlots over some 15 million 
acres or about one third of the total land area in 
New England. The area of almost complete damage was 
about a thousand square miles - more than fifteen 
times the size of the District of Columbia - centered 
largely in central Massachusetts and Southern New 
Hampshire. As the accompanying map shows it involved 
904 townships in 51 counties and comprised 30,000 
separate landowners* 

The appalling damage over such a large area naturally 
caused widespread concern which was not limited only 
to the landowners* It posed two urgent problems: the 
threatening potential fire hazard, and the immense 
task of salvaging the merchantable portions of the 
damaged trees. 

How to quickly reduce the fire danger was para 
mount, for it was generally recognized that, until 
the damaged fire protection facilities were restored 
and the highly inflammable debris was removed, dis 
astrous forest fires would surely follow. Local 
residents felt they were sitting on a powder keg 

likely to explode any minute. Concern was under 
standable and fully justified by the actual facts, 
but to make matters worse some unduly alarming items 
appeared in the press and over the radio. For example, 
one widely circulated magazine predicted that a forest 
fire could spread over the entire area in less time 
than it tppk the hurricane - a matter of some five 
hours. Incidentally, this demonstrated the need in 
similiar catastrophes for some central news control, 
which in this case was undertaken and proved helpful 
later as an organized hazard reduction program became 

The public utility companies began immediately 
to restore their facilities and the highway depart 
ments to clear up the highways and primary roads. 
Also many landowners, both individually and corporate, 
commenced clean-up on their lands, but in general the 
job was too much for them to handle. Most of them 
lacked the needed labor, equipment, or ability to cope 
with the situation. In New England, with its long 
tradition of local government by town meeting, most 
of the heavily hit towns created special "emergency 

committees 11 to coordinate immediate relief measures. 
Fortunately there existed in all the states in 
volved State Forestry Departments, whose primary re - 

sponsibility was to protect forest lands against fire. 
Also, as a part of the overall state protection system, 
many of the towns had local agencies for controlling 
nearby woods fires. All these state and local protection 
agencies went to work immediately to clean out woods 
roads and trails, repair telephone lines and other 
protective facilities. A small portion of the heavily 
damaged areas were located on national or state forests 
and here the responsibility was taken by the respective 
agencies who began to clear up the debris. Most of 
the damage, however, was on private land belonging 
to a large number of owners, most of whom were unable 
to handle a prompt and adequate clean-up job on their 
lands. To effectively reduce the overall fire danger 
the debris had to be cleaned up in whole or partially 
on all ownerships. How this could be accomplished, 
before the inflammable material became tinder dry and 
thus a serious fire menace, was the big problem. And 
closely related was how the merchantable portions of 
the damaged trees could be salvaged before rot or 
insects wiped out all their redeemable value. This 
phase of the operations will be discussed later under 
the "Timber Salvage Program". Time was of the essence 


in both activities and both problems had to be con 
sidered in any practical solution. 

Immediately following the hurricane numerous 
local meetings of interested individuals and groups 
were held to ascertain the damages and discuss plans 
for meeting the emergency. The concensus was that, 
due to the urgency of the needs and the interstate 
scope of the problem, Federal aid was needed to co 
ordinate and take overall direction of the whole job. 
The first urgent request for government help came with 
in a few days after the hurricane, directly to the 
Chief of the U.S. Forest Service from the Director 
of the Harvard Forest at Petersham, Massachusetts 
which property had been severly damaged. A barrage 
of other requests soon followed; some came through 
New England representatives in Congress and others 

directly to the U.S. Forest Service; the Secretary 

of Agriculture received some and at least two went 


directly to the President. One each came from the 
Governors of New Hampshire and Massachusetts. 

It was quite natural that the U.S. Forest Service 
would be singled out as the logical federal agency 
to head up a government aid forestry program. For 
many years it had been cooperating closely with the 

-*Henry A. Wallace 
:K:-?ranklin D. Roosevelt 

State Forestry Departments in forest fire control 
and other forestry work under the Clarke - McUary 
Act of June 7, 1924 ( 43 Stat. 653). 

Even before formal requests for aid reached 
Washington the Chief Forester held several conferences 
to discuss and determine how the Forest Service could 
be most helpful. On September 29 a delegation from 
Massachusetts called on Chief Forester F.A. Wilcox, 
and with him met with Secretary of Agriculture Henry 
A. Wallace o On the following day the Secretary re 
quested the Chief Forester to coordinate the job 
for the Department and to assist the States to the 
fullest extent possible with existing funds and 

Special funds were not then available for an 
emergency program, and Congress was not in session 
to appropriate any. 

Steps were taken promptly to cooperate with 
State and local agencies primarily responsible for 
forest fire protection in the area. On October 3 
the Regional Forester, in charge of Federal forestry 
activities in the hurricane area, met with the New 
England State Foresters and other interested parties 
in Boston to discuss and formulate plans. The first 


job was to survey the extent of the damages and this 
task was undertaken in large by the respective State 
Forestry personnel. 

Following several days of discussion and con 
ferences in Washington to determine how the Depart 
ment of Agriculture could be most helpful, a small 
group of Federal foresters proceeded to Boston on 
October 7 to set up a Project Director s office 
and to launch an action program. 

On the following day the President, partly in 
response to a telegram from the Governor of New Hamp 
shire, directed the administrators of the Civilian 
Conservation Corps (CCC) and the Works Progress Ad 
ministration (WPA) to cooperate with the Forest Ser 
vice in fireproof ing activities. This made available 
a very substantial and much needed source of labor, 
in large part well organized and equipped, for woods 

^n the fall of 1938 the country had not recovered 
fully from the great 1929 depression and fortunately 
there were still in operation 50 CCC Camps and some 
15,000 WPA workers in the hurricane area. Activities 
of these agencies were immediately concentrated on 

clean-up work and remained so until the hazard re 
duction program was completed in the fall of 1940. 
The CCC camps had experienced personnel to super 
vise hazard reduction work, but this was not the case 
with 1PA. They had the laborers but lacked the super 
vision required of them by the Forest Service. During 
the early part of the program the Forest Service 
was handicapped by insufficient funds and personnel 
to adequately administer the WPA work. To correct 
this situation WPA employed foresters and other 
qualified technidais to assist in directing the work. 
They were under complete jurisdiction of the Forest 
Service. Many of these technicians proved to be of 
high calibre and contributed a great deal toward the 
success of the program. Although the Forest Service 
had overall direction of WPA activities on this job, 
close cooperation existed between the two Federal 
agencies. The WPA crews were trained in fire fighting 
techniques but except in emergencies were not con 
sidered as a fire suppression force. 

Actually, WPA and CCC workers formed the back 
bone of the labor force used on this phase of the 
Government emergency operations. There were, how 
ever, heavily damaged areas too remote to be reached 


by existing camps of the CCC or by HifPA commuting 
crews, so other means were needed to cover such 

When Congress reconvened in March, 1939, 
various bills were introduced to authorize additional 
Federal aid. These were provided on March 15 by a 
$5,000,000 appropriation for work on non-Federal 
lands and an additional $500,000 for National Forests 
in New Hampshire and Maine. By amendment on May 2, 
1939 $60,000 of the original appropriation was to 
be used on damaged properties on Long Island. Subse 
quently an additional $300,000 was made available for 
the fiscal year 1940/1941. 

Unlike the customary Clarke-McNary Law procedure 
(whereby Federal funds were allotted to cooperating 
states for expenditure by the states) these Federal 
emergency funds were for use by the responsible govern- 
ment agency. However, they were to be on a matching 
basis - in other words, the Federal expenditures in 
any state could not exceed the state, local and pri 
vate expenditures for similiar work in that state. 

^he operations stemming from these Federal funds 
were known as the "NEFE" ( New England Federal Emer 
gency) program. Up to this time, the small super- 


visory force needed for the federal hurricane 
emergency activities were on loan from the U.S. 
Forest Service. They had functioned primarily 
in coordinating the work carried on by the various 
interested agencies, including the state forestry 
departments, local groups, private landowners, 
other Federal agencies and the CCC and WPA. This 
initial group of Federal Foresters formed the 
nucleus for the NEFE and additional experienced 
personnel was recruited, largely from the Forest 
Service, as needed to carry out the expanded respon 

Two plans were adopted for working areas which 
could not be reached by existing CCC or WPA workers. 
First, as far as possible, local crews, generally 
20 men each, were hired on a hourly basis, in most 
cases 504, to cover areas within commuting distance 
from their homes. Each crew was supervised by a 
capable foreman. Four or more such crews were under 
the supervision of an experienced District Supervisor. 

Laborers were obtained largely through cooperation 
of the U.S. Employment Service. Local men were chosen, 
insofar as possible, for work within easy commuting 
distance of their homes. They furnished their own 


transportation and subsistence. Many of these crews 
were organized and operating "by late April. They were 
given thorough training in the use of hand tools, both 
as applied to their hazard reduction job and for fire 
control purposes. High standards of efficiency were 
required of the men, and if they failed to respond 
to repeated attempts at training they were dismissed. 

Secondly, to cover areas where local commuting 
crews were not possible or practicable, it was neces 
sary to construct camps to house from 50 to 100 work 
ers. 19 of these so called "DA" (Department of Agri 
culture) camps were established at an average cost 
of $7500 for a 50-man camp and $9500 for a 100-man 
camp. Except for laborers and cooks all other employ 
ees were taken from Civil Service registers. A large 
number of the laborers were young men who had served 
their two years in the CCC. Also many were University 
forestry students. The camp superintendent was respon 
sible for organizing, planning and accomplishing the 
work, but to a large degree the practice of self govern- 
ment prevailed and proved effective. Although the 
primary objectives differed, these camps were quite 
similar to the Job Corps camps of today. Most W DA" 
camps operated until the end of 1940, when the last 
one was closed* 

A WPA clean up crew reducing the fire hazard at Lady Wheelock and Lady Parks 
at Keene, New Hampshire, caused by the storm of September 21, 1938. 
Taken by B.W. Mulr, U.S. Forest Service, October, 1938 


It was necessary, of course, to obtain written 
permission from the landowners before performing any 
work on private lands. This proved to be no small 
task due to the large number of cases, and it was 
complicated further by absentee owners, many of whom 
were difficult to reach. The responsibility for con 
tacting owners was assumed by interested local citi 
zens and groups. In this endeavor the 1PA workers 
were helpful since they were local citizens, more or 
less familiar with landowners in their areas. Prac 
tically all owners were naturally glad to sign agree 
ments for cleaning up their lands at no expense to 
them. Strangely enough, there were several cases 
where permission was refused on the grounds, in their 
words, that they had "no use for the President". 

As the program developed, the Project Director s 
office was staffed as needed to do the overall super 
visory job, and State Directors were appointed in 
each of the six New England states. In the heavily 
damaged areas of the states they were divided into 
districts with District Supervisors made directly 
responsible for all project activities within their 
areas. This general supervisory type organization 
was followed throughout most of the program, but 


revisions were made as needed to meet changing needs, 
as major objectives shifted from "hazard reduction" 

to "timber salvage." 


The combined accomplishment on fire control 
activities of the three Federal work agencies, WPA, 
CCC, and NEFE, was 10,121 miles of roads and trails 
cleared and 214,902 acres of debris disposed of on 
roadside strips, near villages and homes, and on 
"breaker strips" for controlling fires in large 
"blow down" areas. In addition substantial assist 
ance was given state and local fire protection agen 
cies in restoring damaged fire control facilities 
(such as 15 toppled-down lookout towers and 563 miles 
of telephone lines) and in locating and constructing 
many water holes for fire suppression use. A grand 
total of 4,876,519 man-days of labor were spent on 
Federal fire proofing activities. 

The Agriculture Adjustment Administration (AAA) 
provided a $4 per acre benefit payment to individual 
landowners for cleaning up their lands. However, 
little use was made of this aid, since in most cases 
the cost of the work required would far exceed the 


The Federal hazard reduction project was com 
pleted by the fall of 1940 and on November 25 of that 
year the Congress authorized the transfer of the 
government purchased tools and equipment to the New 
England state forestry departments for forest fire 
protection by the states. Distribution was made 
on the basis of their respective needs as a result 
of the hurricane. Under this authority a substantial 
amount of fire control equipment was given to the 
states, including 25 trucks, 9 station wagons, 22 
fire pumps and 47,120 feet of fire hose. 

The benefits resulting from the Federal assist 
ance in the fire hazard reduction operations cannot 
be precisely evaluated. The major accomplishments 
were headed by the help given in cleaning some 600,000 
acres of inflammable debris, which, if left untouch 
ed on the ground, would have created a potential fire 
hazard of catastrophic proportion. The protection 
taken certainly was instrumental in preventing any 
major fire losses. 

But how can the value of prevention be measured 
against the uncertainty of what might have occured? 
An old proverb tells us that "an ounce of prevention 


is worth a pound of cure 11 . Disastrous forest fires 
following in the wake of this hurricane would have 
raised this ratio many fold. Undoubtedly, the in 
tangible but nonetheless greatest benefit was psycho 
logical - the lessening of local apprehension over 
threatening or possible danger in the knowledge that 
substantial protective measures were being taken. 

Another immeasurable benefit was the widespread 
public appreciation, stemming from the hurricane, of 
the urgent need for proceedings against forest fires. 
A benefit which could pay good future dividends to both 
was the training and experience in fire control tech 
niques acquired by the many hundreds of young men who 
participated in the program. 

A more measurable yardstick is the financial bene 
fit to many thousands of landowners whose properties 
were cleaned up, most of whom were unable to perform 
or finance the work themselves. This benefit could 
be conservatively assessed at the actual cost of the 
Federal contribution, roughly estimated at 25 million 

Another measurable benefit for future forest fire 
protection was the substantial amount of tools and 
equipment turned over to the states, at the completion 


of the federal program. 

Still another immeasurable but possible benefit 
is the experience acquired in this program in the 
event of similar catastrophes which might occur with 
in the not too distant future. 

Prom a conservation standpoint the removal or 
reduction of vast amounts of dead or rotting trees 
was beneficial, for such material left on the ground 
would have provided breeding places for destructive 
insects and disease. Also large accumulations of 
debris, if left on the ground, would retard natural 
tree regeneration to a greater or less extent. 

Possibly one of the greatest public benefits 
resulting from the hazard reducing program was its 
vitalizing influence on forest fire control thinking 
and planning in New England. It provided the basis 
for a unity of effort along these lines never before 
experienced in the Northeast, and its effects will 
become more and more apparent as time goes on. The 
value of these effects became manifest early in the 
program through needed forestry legislation and in the 
development of improved fire control practices. 

The Forest Service, in carrying out its coordinating 
responsibilities, acknowledged and appreciated the valuable 
assistance and cooperation of the many interested agencies, 
local, state and federal. Splendid cooperation was 

Timber Management, Injured Trees, New Hampshire, 

White Mountain National Forest 

W. P. A. workers piling brush tops and slash 

cuttings from devastated trees in the Gale River 

Experimental Forest along the side of the Gale 

River State Road. 

Taken by B. W. Muir--0ctober 15, 1938 


obtained from those most interested - COG, WPA, and the 
various State Foresters and their organizations, as 
well as town committees and the lumbermen of the Northeast, 

It was estimated that the trees which were uprooted 
or otherwise damaged contained about two and one-half 
billion board feet of merchantable lumber or other 
usable forest products. Further, that nearly 70# of it, 
or 1,600,000 board feet (enough to build half a million 
dwellings) could be salvaged - provided it could be 
processed before the values were wiped out by decay 
or insects. Unless the logs could be put in water 
storage this might be only a matter of a few months, so 
as in reducing the fire danger, time was the important 
factor. A major portion of the trees were eastern white 
pine, a species valuable for lumber and box boards. By 
many owners they were considered their major asset. 

The problem was, first how the salvaging could be 
accomplished, and secondly, what organization could best 
handle the job. Both problems were widely discussed 
at numerous meetings of interested persons and groups, 
both locally and in Washington. 

To initiate an adequate salvage project was more 
complicated than was the case in reducing the fire damage. 


There were a number of important reasons, among them: 

(a)- There was no existing organization equipped 
to handle a job of this magnitude, 

(b)- There was no ready local market for such a 
large amount of forest products. 

(c)- There were not sufficient experienced labor 
or suitable equipment in most areas. 

Again, and largely for the reasons mentioned pre 
viously the local concensus pointed toward the Federal 
Government and pinpointed the Forest Service as the most 
logical agency to coordinate, direct and handle the 
project. Numerous requests were received from the New 
England states for Federal action. 

Unfortunately, there were no Federal funds currently 
available and the Congress was not in session to provide 
the needed legislative authorization and financing. 
Neither the Secretary of Agriculture nor the Forest 
Service had authority to borrow funds. However, the 
Surplus Commodities Corporation, a corporate agency in 
the Department of Agriculture did have such authoriza 
tion. Consequently, the SCO created a special sub 
division NETSA (Northeastern Timber Salvage Administra 
tion) for the sole purpose of meeting the emergency and 
conferred upon it all necessary authority to do the 
job. An initial loan was obtained from the Disaster 
Loan Corporation - a division of the Reconstruction 


Finance Corporation (RFC) - to launch the project* 
The procedure was to be a business transaction and 
in no way a "grant-in-aid . " The logs to be pur 
chased and the material to be processed were to com 
prise collateral. Both principal and 3$ interest were 
to be repaid from the proceedes from sales, to the full 
est extent possible. 

The Chief Forester was appointed a vice-president 
of the SCC and made administrator of NETSA, with full 
responsibility for all Federal operations. The formal 
authorization of November 14, 1938, gave him "authority 
to use all facilities and personnel of the U.S. Forest 
Service and of such Federal, state, local and private 
agencies as may be willing to cooperate, and to employ 
such additional personnel as needed and to assume full 
responsibility for the procuring, handling, processing, 
exchanging, storing, transporting and sale of all in 
ventories of the corporation, acquired in connection 
with the timber salvage program and shall execute con 
tracts in connection therewith and to designate field 
agents of the corporation to carry out the last named 
functions, pursuant to his direction." He was further 
authorized "to establish state offices and such administra 
tive units and offices as he may deem necessary to the 


efficient effectuation of the salvage program, to ne 
gotiate with the Disaster Loan Corporation and to ob 
tain a loan to be made to the Federal Surplus Commodities 
Corporation in an amount not in excess of $15,000,000." 
He was M to report, directly to the Secretary of Agri 
culture on all matters arising in connection with the 
program" . 
Policy Development Within the Program 

Although the authority granted the administrator 
was broad and included logging operations on lands of 
cooperating owners and also the purchase of sawn lumber, 
the policy was early adopted of not undertaking either 
of these activities. The reasons were: (l) enough pri 
vate loggers were available locally or could be recruited 
from other areas to perform logging work under direct 
contract with landowners, (2) Federal funds were limited 
to hurricane damaged material and it would be impossible 
or difficult to determine the original source of pur 
chased sawn lumber. As regards logging, considerable 
help was given to private land owners in locating and 
obtaining loggers and also in drawing up suitable con 
tracts and, wherever necessary, in obtaining loans from 
local banks. 

A logical question, raised by persons unfamiliar 


with the situation, was Why was not the government- 
owned lumber utilized by the government itself? This 
possibility was fully explored with the lumber experts 
of the National Defense Advisory Commission and of the 
War and Navy Departments. A number of orders were re 
ceived and filled for the Navy by NETSA, but in general 
its direct use by government agencies was limited. This 
was due to a number of reasons: 

In 1939 and 1940, when most of the logs were sawn, 
the lumber business was in the doldrums and there 
was little demand for wood products from any source. 
This was especially so for "rough" sawn lumber, which 
in general, required further processing to make it usable. 
Other government agencies were not interested in "rough" 
lumber and NETSA had no remanufacturing facilities. The 
original sawing was done by many small portable mills, 
which were not equipped with planers. In fact, the under 
lying action was that NETSA would salvage the logs and 
convert them into rough lumber for storing and seasoning; 
the material would then be available for local wood- 
using industries, to be reprocessed to suit their wood 
needs or the requirements of the established lumber market. 

Another factor was that all NETSA lumber was "random" 
piled in hundreds of lots scattered throughout New England 


and in nearly all cases would require grading and sorting 
before orders for specific items could be filled. With 
one War Department inquiry for camp construction material, 
which required a high degree of large lumber and heavy 
timbers, it would have been necessary to tear down piles 
in 32 yards to obtain the required stock* Even then, 
the lack of "dressing" facilities would have prevented 
delivery of the lumber on time. 

Another reason was that the salvaged material had 
been either sold and delivered or was under contract a 
year or more before the demand for wood for war purposes 
began. Eventually, however, almost all of the hurricane 
lumber was used for military needs. If the hurricane 
had occurred two years later or could subsequent war 
demands have been foreseen, the operations could and would 
have been revised to meet military requirements. No 
doubt this would have resulted in a substantial savings 
to the government. On the otherhand, it might have 
been at the expense of local industries whose needs for 
wood products to fill government contracts came largely 
from NETSA lumber. 

The primary objectives in disposing of the lumber 
and other forest project products was, first, to pro 
vide for the needs of local industries and, secondly, 


to sell the surplus in an orderly way so as not 
to disrupt local markets. In the early meetings 
and discussions with lumber industry representa 
tives, both national and local, it was apparent 
there was apprehension. Many thought that the 
government might intrude unduly in the retail 
lumber trade. To allay that concern, various 
discussions were held with responsible and inter 
ested local individuals and groups. On September 
9, 1939 NETSA officials met with 23 representatives 
of various lumber associations and wood-using in 
dustries to discuss policies and procedures* This 
was followed up on September 27 by a meeting at 
Winchendon, Massachusetts with a committee repre 
senting ten of the major lumber associations. At 
this time the committee unanimously approved a sales 
policy, drafted by NETSA, which was believed to re 
flect the majority opinion of the industry and the 
government. This statement was released to the press 
on October 4, giving assurance to the interested 
lumber associations that the government had no in 
tention of going into the lumber business. In short 
this policy provided: 

(a)- To a maximum degree, logs in water storage 


will be disposed of to existing industries with 
the view of maintaining stabilized employment for 
the maximum period. 

(b)- Lumber owned by NETSA will be sold in 
foreign markets to the fullest degree. 

(c)- Preference in the sale of lumber to gov 
ernmental agencies will be granted prior to sales 
within the local market. 

(d)- So far as possible, pine lumber disposed 
of in the domestic market will be distributed through 
the regularly established New England distribution 
channels. The governmental requirement, that the 
product must be advertised before sale, will be 
followed; but lumber will not be disposed of in 
small lots, the usual practice being to require the 
purchase of entire yards or none at all. 

This policy was followed generally throughout 
the program but changing conditions necessitated 
some revisions, which were made only after dis 
cussion with interested local groups. Close con 
tact with interested groups was maintained through 
out the operations, and especially with the Secre 
tary of the Northeastern Lumber Manufacturers Associ 
ation, located in Boston. 


In many instances, particularly in the salvage 
operations, it was necessary to employ workers with 
little or no experience in the kind of work involved 
scaling and grading logs, grading lumber, sawmill 
operations, fire prevention and suppression and the 
like. Therefore, extensive training courses were 
needed and carried out. One of the most interesting 
was the training of women for sawmill work. Male 
workers became very scarce with the increasing 
activity of local wood-using industries to meet 
military requirements. Consequently, it became 
necessary to employ women to help operate several 
mills where NETSA had to do the sawing. At one 
site in New Hampshire nine women were used. The 
experiment proved successful, for after adequate 
training the women did a good job and proved very 
useful at a time when help was urgently needed and 
hard to find. 

The salvage program embraced three main activi 
ties: (1) purchasing the logs; (2) sawing the logs 
into lumber; and (3) selling the lumber. These 
operations will be briefly discussed in their chrono. 
logical order. 

Turkey Pond Sawmill located near Concord, N.H. 

Mill operated by NETSA and run by 9 women and 

3 men. 

Taken by W. K. Williams --August, 1943 

U-Saw Prod., Lbr., Mills & Log Stor.--N.H. 


PURCHASING LOGS: Three necessary determina 
tions had to be made before undertaking the pur 
chase of logs. First, what log scale should be used; 
secondly, what price or prices should be paid, and 
thirdly, where should the logs be received. 

Several different log rules were in use in the 
area. After a careful study of their relative merits 
it was decided that the "International Log Rule" 
was the most equitable for the material involved 
and so this rule was selected. 

The establishment of the log prices was governed 
by the desire to allow the hurricane stricken land 
owners the maximum benefit for the sale of their 
logs, but at the same time to provide for repay 
ment of the loan which made the salvaging project 
possible. Obviously, the success of the whole enter 
prise would depend on purchase prices which would 
interest the timber owners. The government had no 
desire to make a profit for itself, but NETSA was 
committed by the loan agreement to recover the pub 
lic investment if at all possible. 

A carefully prepared analysis, based on the 
best available data, indicated prices of $18, $14 
and $10 per one thousand board feet for white pine 


logs of grades 1, 2 and 3 respectively. Other 
comparable prices were determined for the rela 
tively small amounts of other species and for pulp- 
wood. These appraisal prices seemed to be generally 
satisfactory. They provided reasonable logging and 
hauling costs and left the landowners a fair sal 
vage value for their damaged timber. However, they 
represented values of logs at the time they were 
received; if the appraisal values were paid in 
full, there would be no allowance for the cost of 
administration and for any depreciation in log values 
until such time as they could be processed and mar 
keted. In private practice such allowances ranged 
from ten to twenty-five percent. The question of 
how much to allow for the hurricane timber was the 
subject of much discussion and controversy. 

Subsequently, the original loan agreement pro 
vided that logs should be purchased at 80% of their 
appraised value, with the understanding that the 
vendors would receive additional payments in the 
event the program could be operated at a profit. 
A few purchases were negotiated on that basis, but 
it soon became apparent that an 80$ initial pay 
ment was not attractive to most owners. This applied 


mainly to the price established for grade 3 logs, 
the catagory which covered three-fourths of the 
"hurricane" timber. A great deal of protest ensued 
because of the desire of vendors for full or at 
least 90$ payment. Various bills were introduced 
in Congress calling for appropriations, and in 
one case stipulating an additional bonus of $2.50 
per thousand board feet. None of these bills were 
passed. However, by Executive Order the appraised 
price for grade 3 white pine logs was increased by 
#2. In effect, this was a subsidy, for in the final 
outcome it about equalled the amount by which the 
government failed to recover its investment. 

Then early in January, 1939, authority was 
obtained to increase the initial payment to ninety 
percent of the scheduled prices, with the provision 
that the government would take full title to the 
logs. It was also decided that the log vendors 
should understand that ultimately they would re 
ceive their prorata share of all excess net receipts, 
if any, derived from the program within their state. 
These changes were made retroactive to the few con 
tracts already made and were incorporated in all 
new sales agreements. The increased payments and 

the added benefits provided the impetus needed to 
get the program moving. Purchase agreements were 
more readily negotiated and logs began to arrive 
at the various receiving stations at a rapid rate. 
NETSA officials believed the amounts actually paid 
for the logs represented fair prices and provided 
the owners reasonable salvage values for their 
damaged timber. 

Locations where logs would be received were 
based upon the availability of suitable sites at 
reasonable rental rates and upon the expected vol 
ume of timber to be received at each site. They 
were established at strategic sites withing prac 
tical hauling distances from the lands involved. 
To the extent possible they were placed near ponds, 
lakes or rivers so that the logs could be temporarily 
stored in water to protect them from destructive 
insects and decay - until they could be either sold 
as logs or sawn into lumber, after the land stored 
logs had been processed. Two hundred and forty-six 
of these, so called "wet" sites, were set up through 
out the area. Where water storage was not possible 
"dry" sites were established. Where possible, they 
were located at existing sawmills, but these were 


few, so mostly open fields were selected. -An 
essential requirement for the site was suitable 
space for a sawmill and for the storage of lumber. 
The ultimate disposal of sawdust and other refuse 
was also considered, as were the relative risks 
of fire and theft. Altogether, over 800 receiving 
sites were selected, but only 721 were actually 
used, of which 461 were "dry". At fourteen other 
locations both water and land storage were avail 

Agreements for purchasing logs were on a state 
wide rather than an overall basis, chiefly because 
of the provision for distributing possible benefits. 
In other words, there could be an excess of resale 
receipts in one or more states and not in others, 
so a final audit by states was deemed most equitable 
to the log vendors. 

The more important contract provisions were 
that only logs from blown down or substantially 
injured trees, resulting from the hurricane, would 
be delivered; that all damaged timber would be in 
cluded; that the vendor would deliver at a specified 
receiving site and within a stated time, not to ex 
ceed an agreed-upon volume. The administration agreed 

to pay the seller, within 10 days, 90 per cent 
of the scheduled price. The vendor s share of 
any net profits was to be paid within 90 days after 
all timber salvaged in that state had been resold. 
This profit-sharing right was personal and could 
not "be assigned. 

As the logs v/ere delivered at the various re 
ceiving sites they were scaled, and where necessary, 
graded by a NETSA-trained sealer and were put in 
storage either on land or in water or both, depending 
on the storing facilities. The vendors were given 
"purchase receipts", which were recorded and served 
as a basis for payment. Payment by government check 
was expedited as much as possible, but in many cases 
where operating funds were needed immediately, the 
vendors could generally use their delivery statements 
as a basis for loans from local bankers. They be 
came almost legal tender in the area. 

The first logs were received at two sites in 
New Hampshire on November 21, 1958 - one week after 
NETSA was created and two months to a day following 
the hurricane. The peak of deliveries was during 
the spring and early summer of 1939 after which 
deliveries dropped rapidly. By June 1940 most of 


the logs remaining in the woods showed signs of 
deterioration and also the deliveries dwindled to 
a point where administrative expenses were be 
coming excessive. Consequently the purchasing of 
logs ended June 30, 1940. 

A total of 660,555 M (thousand) board feet of 
logs was bought, of which nearly 90 per cent was 
white pine. $7,860,813 was paid to log vendors 
in twelve thousand separate invoices. In addition 
59586 cords of pulpwood were purchased at a cost 
of $464,500, making a grand total of $8,323,313 
paid to thirteen thousand landowners, mostly farmers, 
for their hurricane-injured timber. Of this amount 
almost 59 per cent went to landowners in New 
Hampshire, 18 per cent and 12 per cent to Massachusetts 
and Vermont owners, respectively; 7 per cent went 
to Maine and the remaining 4 per cent was expended 
in Connecticut and Rhode Island, in that order. A 
large part of these payments was, of course, to 
cover the cost of cutting the logs and hauling them 
in between the cutting and receiving sites taken 
by the timber owners, but in most cases, they in 
cluded a reasonable stumage value. 

did not want to get into the manufacturing busi 
ness anymore than was absolutely necessary. It 
believed that activity could best be performed by 
private industry. The original hope was to store 
the logs in water, where they would be relatively 
safe from deterioration, then to sell them over a 
reasonable period of time to local wood-using in 
dustries in amounts sufficient to meet their nor 
mal needs. However, early surveys showed there was 
not sufficient water storage available, which made 
it necessary to convert the logs into lumber as 
rapidly as possible. This applied -to about 87 per 
cent of all the logs purchased. An important fac 
tor was the knowledge that logs stored on the ground 
v/ere perishable and warm weather would lead to in 
festation off the ground from borers in the white 
pine logs and to a general spread of fungus dis 
eases in all species. 

The method of sawing naturally was determined 
by the anticipated market and this, in turn, had 
been decided at the September 27, 1938, policy agree- 


ment with lumber industry representatives: namely, 
that the lumber will be sold outside of New England 
to the fullest extent possible. This meant that 
the logs should be converted into "square edge" con 
struction lumber. 

Although it was necessary for NETSA to have 
the dry-site logs sawn, it was hoped that milling 
by the government directly would not be necessary. 
Every effort was made to contract this work to estab 
lished operators. There were a few stationary mills 
in the area, but in general small portable sawmills 
were brought in from other sections - mostly from 
Pennsylvania and West Virginia. Sawing contracts were 
solicited through advertisements and other means and 
were administered by the lowest qualified bidders. 

The maximum acceptable prices were set at $7.50 
per thousand board feet for sawing and piling one- 
inch square edge softwood and $1 more for the rela 
tively small volume of hardwoods. To stimulate the 
production of high extra quality lumber and to com 
pensate operators for the nigher expense of "grade" 
sawing, a bonus of $1 per thousand board feet was 
granted for No. 2 common and better grades of soft- 


wood lumber.. For hardwoods it was No. 1 common. 
In all, contracts were made with 275 sawmill 
operators, who processed the logs at most of the 
sites. However, a few locations were left where, 
for various reasons, it was not possible to con 
tract the sawing and where NETSA had to perform 
the work by so called "force acount". Fifteen 
portable mills were purchased and operated by 
the government. This was during the late stages 
of the program when qualified local labor could 
not be found. It was at several of these mills 
where women were employed and trained for saw- 
milling operations. 

Milling got underway in January, 1939, at a 
number of dry sites and expanded rapidly under 
pressure to complete sawing of all land-stored 
logs within a six-month period. Some "wet" logs 
for various reasons had to be removed from ponds 
and were earmarked from the the "wet" sites for 
early sawing. Until early in 1940, it was still 
the hope to sell most of the logs in water storage 
to local industries in the form of logs. A few 
such sales were made, but it was still a year or 
more before preparations for war began stimulating 


the markets. The question of disposal of logs in 
ponds was given careful consideration and was fully 
discussed with local wood industry groups. It was 
decided they should be converted into lumber and 
be added to the inventory aimed for "foreign" con 
sumption. Consequently, early in the spring of 
1940 sawing of the water-stored logs began. At each 
milling site NETSA stationed one or more men to tally, 
and where necessary grade the boards as they were 
made; also to enforce compliance with contract re 
quirements, such as proper piling of lumber, adequate 
protection against fire and the like. 

SELLING THE LUMBER: At the time of the hurri 
cane all business was at a low ebb and this applied 
particularly to the lumber industry throughout New 
England. For many years the limited production and 
consumption of white pine in that region was in the 
form of "round edge" (sawn on two sides) material 
for use as box boards or crating. The total con 
sumption for these purposes had dwindled to 125 
million board feet in 1937. Most local require 
ments for construction material had long been 
supplied from western and southern states and the 
normal lumber business followed that general pattern. 


To suddenly dump large quantities of white pine 
lumber on a slow market presented a difficult 
problem. How could it be accomplished, within 
a limited time, and without seriously disrupting 
the normal lumber business, especially in the New 
England states? ^he most logical answer still seemed 
to be the original policy as announced in September 
of 1938: To dispose of the material as far as possi 
ble in a broader market. It had in mind consumption 
in states north of the Potomac and east of the Missis 
sippi River. This seemed sound logic at the time and 
up to late in 1941, when war effort activities com 
pletely changed the picture. Prom then on the entire 
volume of salvaged timber would have been sold lo 
cally as "round edge" lumber, which would have been 
advantageous to the government. However, no "crystal 
ball" could foresee the events of the future. 

So NETSA undertook and carried out an extensive 
selling campaign through advertisement, circulars, 
personal contact, etc., to interest prospective buyers. 
As soon as sawing at a site was completed it was adver 
tised for sale in the local press, national trade 
journals and other mediums. In conformity with estab 
lished policy and also for practical operational 


reasons, sales in general included all merchantable 
material at the site. 

One of the first sales was to the Few York, 
New Haven, and Hartford Railroad. Several lots of 
softwood and hardwood lumber were advertised and 
sold on a market appraisal basis during the early 
part of 1940. By the summer of 1940 it became 
clear that relatively small sales to local industries 
were progressing too slowly, and in order not to un 
duly prolong the NET8A program some faster means of 
disposing of the bulk of the timber was needed. Again 
the problem was thoroughly discussed at various meet 
ings with industry representatives and also with in 
terested government agencies, including the military. 
A number of proposals were considered; most of them 
centered on one large sale embracing all unsold logs 
and lumber - beyond the needs of local industries. 
Local needs were estimated at about one-third of the 
total, but the definite amount had not been fixed. 

One of the proposals showing early promise in 
volved the creation of a "Cooperative Organization" 
made up of local wood users who would raise ten million 
dollars to purchase and market four hundred million 


board feet of NETSA lumber. For various reasons, 
principally the lack of subscription, this proposal 
was dropped. 

By early fall of 1940 agreement had been reach 
ed to advertise a proposal to sell approximately 
425 million board feet of white pine lumber. About 
half of this amount had already been sawn and was 
on "sticks" at some 340 sites. The other half was 
in ponds and could be sawn to suit any reasonable 
requirement of the purchaser. 

In response to wide advertisement in the press 
and trade journals, negotiations were finally con 
summated on September 25, 1940, in a sale to the 
Eastern Pine Sales Corporation - a concern formed 
specifically to purchase the salvaged lumber. Short- 
ly after the contract was signed the company be 
gan removing lumber from the various sites included 
in its contract. The company was incorporated in 
Delaware but during most of its life was controlled 
and operated by Grossman and Sons of Boston. The 
contract provided for the purchase of up to 425 
million board feet of rough square-edge white pine 
lumber at an initial price of $21 per thousand board 
feet. Among its provisions was a price-adjusting 

Earle H. Clapp, Acting Chief of the U.S. Forest Service, signs 
the agreement selling 425,000,000 feet of salvaged logs and 
lumber to the Eastern Pine Sales Corporation, represented by 
Mr. Harry Joseph, in center. Time is September 25, 1940, the 
consummation of two years of an intensive salvage program 
directed by earl S. Peirce, Acting Chief of the branch of 
State and Private Forestry of the U.S. Forest Service, after 
the 1938 New England hurricaine. 
Photo by U.S. Forest Service. 


formula, to be computed at three month intervals, 
which was designed to stabilize the market value 
of NETSA lumber. The index correlated the contract 
price with both Boston and New York markets for 
various comparable items of pine lumber from western 
states. Under the index the price for each quarter 
varied somewhat, but gradually increased to around 
$25 in line with general lumber trade. 

The original contract provided for the pur 
chase of square-edge lumber only but it was later 
amended to the advantage of both parties concerned, 
to include round-edge lumber and also the logs in 
water. In the former case the price would be $3 
less, and, for logs, $10 less than the current con 
tract price for square-edge lumber. 

Up to the time the EPSC sale was made, 35 million 
board feet of white pine logs and 48 million board 
feet of sawn lumber had been sold - roughly one- 
eigth of the total volume salvaged. In November, 
1940, the lumber associations of New England were 
informed that NETSA still had about 225 million board 
feet of logs stored in ponds of which 120 million 
were reserved for the use of local industries, the 
balance having been committed to EPSC. It was the 


intent to give New England industries the first 
choice of the various ponds so they might pur 
chase those logs nearest to their mills and best 
suited for their use. At the same time, it was 
only fair to inform EPSC officials what specific 
ponds were to be sawn for them, so they could 
make plans and negotiate contracts for establish 
ing planing mills and concentration yards. 

Accordingly, in agreement with interested 
local industry committees, March 1, 1941, was 
set as a deadline by which time the industries 
v/ere to indicate which ponds they wished to pur 
chase. Logs in ponds not then reserved were to 
be included in the EPSC contract. At the time 
there were about 89 million board feet of logs in 
water that were eventually sold in the form of 
logs - 60 per cent to local industries directly, 
and 40 per cent to EPSC under its contract. 

Although all the salvaged timber had now been 
either sold, reserved, or contracted, the end of the 
government s task was yet far away. Most of the 
water-stored logs had to be sawn or sold in the 
"rough". In the latter case, the purchasers gen 
erally accepted them on the basis of the original 


scale made at the time they were received at the 
site, thus saving the expense of rescale. Some 
purchasers, however, fearing possible loss from 
sinkage or the dangers present, were not willing 
to accept the accuracy of the initial tally. In 
those cases a second scaling was necessary. Where 
the "wet" logs required sawing, NETSA personnel 
had to enforce the contract requirements, tally 
and grade the lumber etc. - the same as was done 
at the dry sites. The many lumber piles, scattered 
over a wide area, presented a serious protection 
problem. Fire was the greatest danger, but also 
theft always was present. Until the lumber was 
sold and removed it was government property and 
collateral under the loan agreement. Insurance 
was considered but given up due to exorbitant premiums, 

Upon completion of the sawing program, NETSA 
still had the responsibility for carrying out the 
government obligations under the EPSC contract and 
for enforcing satisfactory performance by the com 
pany. With such a large contract, comprising mater 
ial at hundreds of widely scattered locations, it 
was inevitable that many unforeseen problems would 
crop up. In some instances differences of opinion 


between government and company personnel arose as 
to how they should be handled. In general, they 
were minor and were readily resolved. The real 
marvel was that there were not more disagreements 
and some of a serious nature. That this did not 
occur can be attributed to the willingness of both 
contract parties to cooperate in good faith in work 
ing out problems in the most practical way and the 
desire to get on with the job. 

The company established three concentration 
locations to which the rough lumber was hauled for 
planing or otherwise processing for reselling, ^hree 
or more NETSA employees were stationed at each con 
centration yard to tally the lumber - by grades where 
that was needed, ^ring the final stages practically 
all the lumber was used for military purposes, large 
ly in the construction of training camps. 

The salvage program was nearing completion by 
the end of January 1943, at which time the Project 
Director s office was closed. The responsibility 
for ending all Federal activities in New England 
relating to the hurricane was turned over to the 
Regional Forester at Philadelphia. Understandably, 
this was probably the least rewarding phase of the 


entire program, for it involved a wide variety of 
cleanup jobs. They ranged, for example, from place 
ment of personnel to sawing out the last ponds, 
closing of contracts, cleaning up storage and saw 
mill sites, including the disposal of sawdust piles, 
terminating leases and disposal of miscellaneous 
equipment. The closing out job in itself was no 
small task. The entire program was terminated on 
December 31| 1943. 



A summary of the NETSA program showed that a 
little over 651 million board feet of wood products 
had been salvaged from the hurricane-damaged timber* 
Of this total, nearly 89 million board feet were 
sold in the form of logs; 533 million board feet 
were sawed and marketed as lumber (77 per cent 
"square-edge" and 23 per cent "round-edge") and almost 
30 million feet of pulpwood were sold. 

Over eight million dollars were paid to 
thirteen thousand landowners, mostly farmers, for 
the logs frora their damaged trees, 

The total cost of the salvage program was 
$16,269,300, of which almost $15,000,000, or 92 per 
cent, was recovered by the government. 

Altogether, 640 persons, exclusive of day 
laborers, worked on the program at one timber site 
or another and in varying capacities. Almost all 

of the supervisory force was on loan from the regular 
United States Forest Service organization. 


The benefits resulting from the salvage 
program cannot be evaluated accurately. Unquestion 
ably they were substantial. The objectives for which 
the program was undertaken namely to help landowners 
dispose of their damaged timber and at the same time 
not disrupt the local lumber markets already have 
been shown to have been accomplished. It is safe 
to say that, except for the program, most of the 
two-thirds billion board feet of merchantable wood 
products would have been left on the ground to rot. 
Its removal left the woodlots in better condition 
for growing future crops of timber and helped mater 
ially in the overall hazard reduction work the benefits 
of which have been previously outlined. 

The most direct beneficiaries were the thirteen 

thousand timber owners who participated in the program 
and received about eight million dollars. A large part 
was used for labor and provided jobs for many persons 
other than the landowners. 

Altogether, over sixteen million dollars were 

spent on the salvage work, which gave the economy of 
New England a boost at a time when business was at a 
low ebb. 


There were other benefits, such as: stabilizing 
the local lumber, providing raw material to local wood- 
using industries, (giving employment either directly 

or indirectly to hundreds of persons when jobs were 
scarce and training many young men in various lines 
of forestry and allied activities). 

As events turned out, probably the greatest 
public benefit was providing a huge amount of seasoned 
lumber, which was urgently needed and used in the 
country s preparation for war. 

The salvage operations were performed at a 
net cost to the public of a little over one and one- 
fourth million dollars certainly a small sum when 
compared to the overall benefits. 




January 2?, 1965 
Room l;B6 

Mr, Earl Peirce 

3733 Kuntington Street, N.W. 

Washington, D.C. 200l 

Dear Mr, Peirce : 

Mr, Chrlstooher Grander has written that you were 
cl osely connected with the salvage operations that fol 
lowed the New England hurricane of c eptember, 193% an ^ 
that he has talked with you regarding the oosslblllty 
of your writing a statement which could become a part of 
a series on the history of oollcy In the forest Service, 

Such a statement would be deposited In the Univer 
sity s Bancroft Library which Is an archival depository 
used by serious scholars. You would retain all publica 
tion rights If you so desire; In any event, quotations 
can be used only with your permission, 

I assume that ^r. Granger has sum-narlzed for you 
the forestry project that Is unhderway. Operating under 
a grant from Resources for the Future, th s project Is 
attenntlng to gather as much first-hand information re 
garding the development of policy In forestry as can be 
made available to us through tape recorded ntervtews or, 
as In your case and Mr, Granger s, written statements of 
what happened, 

In government archives and documents can be found the 
statistics of such things as the 3*000,000 board feet In 
the blow-down, the 5,000,000 plus ? 500,000 annropr Nations , 
the 11,000 employed CCC boys, and the rather confusing net 
work of agencies that worked with the Forest Service, 
Perhaps your main contribution would b the story of why 
these things occurred as they did: how the decisions were 
made, why other decisions were not made, examnles of reac 
tions among the general public, ;he lumbermen, and others 
with whom you worked, ^ersonal anecdotes are valuable 
In that they, too, cannot be found elsewhere, usually; 
and of special imoortance would be your evaluation of the 
operation In terms of conservation, of economy of the 
forest industry, of the value In terms of government ex 
penditures (92^ of the loan repaid from the sales, I be 
lieve), and In terms of human values. 

Do you have t me to prepare such a statement? It 
would be ajwelcome assistance" to the project by filling 

00 T , 


. jd>^ b^ )9Tsnoo rissc > 

^ f: f ji -.^ 5 ", gf J 5 S> ! -?C X 

: f * ri < 


n.t nr- 



in a sequence of events where otherwise a cr;ao would be 

If you need someone to run errands for you, s>xsh as 
helping you gather resource materials, we have an able 
assistant in Waah n^ton whom we have hired psrt-tlne for 
that purpose. Peel free to call her; I will write her 
to expect this. Her name and address are: 

Irs. Jack Mezirow 

Prospect Rt. N.V. 
Washington 27 B.C. 

Telephone 333-01; 09 

Thank you very much for considering tMs oroposal; 
we hope It works out. 


(Mrs.) Amelia 3. Pry 
"C: Mr. Chr istonher Granger 

% & - -v 1c *- ! a nl 

f a r 


Huntington Street, N. W. 
Washington 15, D. C. 


3738 Huntington Street, N. W. 
Washington 15, D. C. 

. i<\ 

-ew u, ^ 




;fAL o^\L HIS? ,14 486 

oteaber ; , 1967 

Mr. Larl PeiWNl 
either Florida 
or Washington 

Dear Mr. Peiroet 

I aa not sure whether you ore with r. .coville in 
. i terpark or back in Vaohimton, no I am sendi c 

of this letter to both addresses* 

We are cojaln; in on the hoae stretch on the entire 
- orent service series, and I have taken inventory of your 
t ped manuscript today* It reads veil, is -tc 

factual and informative* * e realize what u lount of 

tine and effort oust have ^one into soethins wae 
put together with such care* 

livery tin* I #o over that story, it strikes ne what 
a unique aoawmt MaV-ry it is* 

*o complete the raanuscri t et the <- bound. 

we need a few quo U s an:/ . ies will be do JD si ted 

in our Bancroft Library, in Yile s * orest History iety, 
in the resources for the ?uturo Library, in the UCiA u 

:;pclal Collactions, in your home, in our office collect! >n f 
and possibly in the Torast ervico :uid ,lao at Denver* If 
you wish to order additional co ;ies for i; ecicil col: 
relatives, they can be had at cost u 10. to . jQ 

per copy, <ie;>endiiv: on the a^aount of inserts, etc* 

Here (ire the questions! 

1* --he pictures are just .roat* We ore usin/j all the 
-losst cjnci havi % reprints unde of all we con st under our 
budget. You wrote ae that you want the plates, w o re rint d 
on nagasiiuc Pper, back; I doubt tlu.t wo c ., I r r otions 
J!u.ide of that type of picture* you have or 

do you think you know where you c ~ 

<? I need a sheet showing your mt record in 

^ oret;t rrvice, or (nuch better), a p 

where you went to school (beginning vith your birth ditto ), 

what you studied, Lsrid then your Liployment record. Jo you i 
you can devise such a sheet? 

3* We have two types of c .fcs* I you all 

publication and quotation rights, ^he otiier iv.- fch che 

University, but before anyt. n/; c .,di be p. the ; , 

we have to ^et your permission* In both cases all .ties 

go to you, in ccuse the whole shebang is fora* is 

has never happened yet, but it su,;ht someday*) hich t^ne of 
contract do you want? 

I ho^e you can ,<ret t- is infor ^n oack .t .-way* 

We aro trying to ueet a bindery deadline* rhanka for all you ve done* 

Earl S. Peirce 

3378 Chiswick Court 

Silver Spring, Maryland 20906 



c. P. 

Regional Cultural History Project 

Room U86 

Regional Oral History Office 
Room 486 

October 20, 1967 

Mr. Earl S. Pierce 
3378 Chiswick Court 
Silver Spring, Maryland 

Dear Mr. Pierce: 


One more service from you we must 
request. Please initial all copies at the 
deleted section, then return them once again 
to our office. We must keep our legal eagles 
happy. Thank you. 


Amelia R. Fry 


Agreement (5 copies) 
Return envelope 

as I was 
*ence In San 
ttoe to hold 
srenee , but 
7 I did not 
* one-of-a- 

bhe detail 

re to omit 
a historical 
deal of work 
for editing, 

s which you have 

esources for the 
finish the 

what happens. 

talnly keep us 
and you can 


theju Thank 
SfFwlll be a 
Important that 

as graphically 
rythlng, It Is 

that was under- 
nk you again 

future genera- 

ils, and have It 
.he way), you will 

yours , 


Regional Cultural History Project 

Room U86 
April 5, 1965 

Mr. Earl S. Pierce 
3738 Huntln*ton Street 
Washington, D.C. 20015 

Dear Kr. Pierce : 

Your manuscript arrived last week, just as I was 
about to bury myself In the Wilderness Conference In San 
Francisco. Mr. Ed Crafts was able to find t Irae to hold 
an Interview for our series during the Conference, but 
his and other taping sessions kept me so busy I did not 
get back to ray office to notify you that your one-of-a- 
kind manuscript had Indeed arrived safely. 

Your mention of having to cut down on the detail 
makes me hope that you were not under pressure to omit 
anything which you deem Important as part of a historical 
record. It seems to me that you did a great deal of work 
In a short time, and when we get It typed up for editing, 
perhaps you will want to Include some details which you have 
left out of this version. We have written Resources for the 
Future for an extension of funds In order to finish the 
typing and editing, and I will let you know what happens. 

Meanwhile, what you have sent will certainly keep us 
busy. The pictures can be reproduced here, and you can 
receive IThe T plates vnen we are tnrou^n; your oun personal 
eftnv rmilg !Rkiimrl|iL !! I M^*p"Er U them. Thank 

you for amassing the charts and photographs it will be a 
much more vivid story. I think that It Is important that 
the extent of the entire effort be presented as graphically 
as possible. Even In today s era of Big Everything, It Is 
still difficult to realize the enormous task that was under 
taken and accomplished so successfully. Thank you again 
for writing it out systematically for us and future genera 

As soon as I have time to read over this, and have it 
retyped (your writing is quite legible, by the way), you will 
hear from me again. 

Sincerely yours, 
Amelia R. Pry 

it 9 <* c*f f i H 1 e its* J i/r I an 

t cos: 

v.fv <y 




Agricultural Adjustment Administration, 14 
Agriculture, -Dept. of, 6, 29 
Secretary, powers of, i, 19 

Civilian Conservation Corps, 8-9, 11, 14 
Clarke-McNary Act, 7, 10 
Congress, U.S., 6, 10, 19, 29 

Disaster Loan Corp., 19 
Disease, 17 

Eastern Pine Sales Corp., 40 

Education, professional schools, tech. training, 16, 26 

Equipment, 15 , 16 

Insects, 5, 17, 18 

Lumber industry, 21-26, 35 

Marketing, 18-21, 36ff. 

National Defense Advisory Commission, 22 

Navy department, 22 

New England Federal Emergency Program (NEFE), 10-11, 14 

Northeastern Lumber Mftg. Assn., 25 

Northeastern Timber Salvage Administration(NETSA) , 19 

Ornamental Trees, 2 

Pine areas, 2, 18, 25, 34 

Policy, general comment, ii, 22-25 

Roosevelt, Franklin D. , 6, 13 

Silcox, Ferdinand A. , 7 
State forestry, 4-5 

Administration, 15 
Surplus Commodities Corp., 19 

Timber management, 18-21 
Timber owners, 13, 14, 16, 47 

United States Forest Service 

Appropriations, 7, 10, 19, 29 

And Congress, 6 

Department of Agriculture relations, i 

Public relations, 16, 17, 24 

Timber sales, 18-21, 34-42 


Wallace, Henry, 6, 7 

War Department, 22 

Women, 26 

Woodlots, 3, 47 

Works Progress Administration (WPA), 8-9, HT 14 

World War II, iii, 38 

5 3